Sunday, May 1, 2011

Down on Maple Street

by J.S. Holland

Thus far, my empirical investigations into the noble realm of pipe tobacco have been of the stuff-in-papaw's-pocket sort; bottom-shelf drugstore packs like Borkum Riff, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Captain Black Gold. But now we're heading into deeper waters, for better or for worse.

Sutliff's Maple Street is probably considered just as plebian by the super-snobs who wouldn't touch anything but the exquisite and expensive blends stored in imposing glass canisters at snooty high-end tobacconists. But I ain't that snobby yet. This here tin of Maple Street set me back eight bucks, and speaking as a man who's already grown accustomed to paying a mere two-fitty for perfectly good smokes like Carter Hall, I consider this an excursion into snootville.

And a delicious excursion it is. You like pancakes? You like rum? You like to smoke? It's all here, Jack, combined into one big bowl of breakfast. I do love aromatic pipe tobacco, but I'm also not exclusive about it - in the end, I prefer my tobacco to taste like tobacco and not Adam Ant's incense boutique. But there's no denying the sweet Log Cabin-like punch in the face I got when I popped the lid off this kid. Even if you hated to smoke it, it would a fantastic house-freshener potpourri kinda thing; just leave the can open and soon your whole house will smell like a hot buttered rum cocktail or waffles in vermont.

Maple Street burns evenly, packs well, and has a genuine taste of rum and maple syrup, not just a room note. You'll note the contents of the can are packed loosely and rather parsimoniously, though, meaning you're not really getting as much tobacco as you think - as compared to brands like Half & Half that make a Herculean effort to compress as much product as possible into a foil-covered brick. This, then, also raises the question of whether Maple Street merits its rather off-putting price of eight clams a can.

Me, I reckon I'm worth it. How you feel about your own deservedness is between you and your shadow.

All this talk of maple syrup is making me hungry. As a great man once uttered, "Waffles, we must have waffles forthwith! We must all have waffles and think, each man, to the best of his abilities."

To the pantry, pipe in mouth, then.

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